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Detroit Tigers Series Preview: Yep, it’s them again

It’s nice when the Royals face a team they should beat, but three more against the Tigers just feels a little too soon.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The upside to the unbalanced schedule is that it makes for some very exciting division races in September with the teams in a division playing each other so much. The downside is there are some situations where you get the bottom-feeders of a division in a three-team race playing nine times in a month. We got the first three Royals vs. Tigers games of the final nine out of the way last weekend and we get the second three out of the way this weekend, but this time in Kansas City where the Royals have won five of eight games against them. There, shockingly, isn’t much that’s changed since the last series between these two teams that ended five days ago, but we will get the chance to see a Shawnee Mission East alum on the hill to start this series for the Tigers, so that’s something different and fun at least and I’m sure there’ll be quite a cheering section for Joey Wentz even though he’s going against their hometown team.

Royals vs. Tigers Matchup Stats

Category Royals Tigers
Category Royals Tigers
Winning % .406 .380
H2H Wins 8 5
Team wRC+ 94 79
Team xFIP 4.46 4.32
Run Differential -149 -164
Highest fWAR Bobby Witt, Jr. & Brady Singer, 2.1 Tarik Skubal, 2.9

Royals vs. Tigers Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Riley Greene CF 311 .254 .315 .377 7.7% 29.6% 100 0.6
Victor Reyes RF 276 .270 .304 .363 4.3% 22.8% 91 -0.3
Javier Baez SS 497 .230 .274 .368 4.8% 24.7% 83 1.5
Harold Castro 2B 380 .274 .305 .388 4.2% 18.2% 98 0.0
Willi Castro DH 357 .244 .289 .358 3.9% 19.9% 85 0.6
Kerry Carpenter LF 65 .259 .323 .517 6.2% 26.2% 137 0.4
Spencer Torkelson 1B 318 .197 .289 .305 10.1% 24.8% 75 -0.9
Tucker Barnhart C 267 .213 .281 .248 8.2% 25.1% 59 -0.2
Ryan Kreidler 3B 23 .200 .261 .400 8.7% 21.7% 83 0.2

Tigers Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Eric Haase C/OF 288 .250 .302 .424 6.9% 28.8% 107 1.0
Jeimer Candelario INF 405 .201 .262 .346 6.2% 23.7% 73 -0.3
Kody Clemens INF/OF 110 .140 .200 .270 7.3% 25.5% 31 -0.4
Josh Lester INF/OF 5 .000 .000 .000 0.0% 60.0% -100 -0.1
Akil Baddoo OF 149 .184 .255 .213 8.7% 30.2% 39 -0.6

Tigers Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Gregory Soto 52 50.0 2 8 24.0% 12.9% 3.60 4.49 0.4
Andrew Chafin 53 47.1 1 3 29.0% 5.7% 2.85 2.97 0.9
Joe Jimenez 58 53.0 3 2 33.6% 6.1% 3.06 2.74 1.4

Royals vs. Tigers Projected Pitching Matchups

September 9 - LHP Joey Wentz vs. LHP Daniel Lynch, 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Joey Wentz 2 6.2 0 1 17.2% 6.9% 8.10 3.83 0.2
Daniel Lynch 22 108.1 4 9 20.6% 9.4% 4.82 4.46 0.8

Wentz won’t be making his big league debut in this start, though that would have been cool for him. He made two starts back in May with the first a total disaster and the second very good, but short. He had a nice season in AAA, though didn’t throw a ton of minor league innings due to a shoulder injury, but he’s back now and ready to start in his hometown stadium. He isn’t overpowering with a fastball that can get to the mid-90s but sits more in the lower-90s, around 92-93, but he has a changeup, curve and a cutter that he uses to keep hitters off balance. His changeup is probably the best pitch of the bunch, but ultimately, it’s going to be about his command. Because of his pitch mix, he hasn’t had much issue with platoon splits, but one thing I think is kind of interesting is how he’ll do in the big leagues against more experienced lineups. That’s not necessarily a concern with the Royals, but he did struggle more against the older hitters in the minors than the younger hitters, so it might be something he has to learn as he gets a slightly longer look.

Career vs. KC: First Appearance

It would be nice to get a strong finish from Daniel Lynch to make everyone feel better about his inevitable place in the Opening Day rotation in 2023. It’s not that he doesn’t deserve it. He’s shown that he’s one of the five best (assuming there aren’t too many additions) and clearly has the upside to be a guy you count on both down the stretch and in a playoff series. But since he threw those five shutout innings against the Dodgers, it just hasn’t been the same for him. He faced this very Tigers team in his last outing and had to work around a couple of runners, but held them scoreless through four before the bottom fell out in the fifth and he allowed four runs. Now he’s struck out 12 and walked nine in his last four starts over just 20.2 innings and that’s simply not good enough. I’ve mentioned innings before and he’s close to his career-high, but he needs to at least get through this season reasonably strong or else I’ll continue to have questions of whether or not he can hold up through a full season.

Career vs. DET: 4 GS, 19.2 IP, 1-1, 4.12 ERA

September 10 - RHP Matt Manning vs. RHP Jonathan Heasley, 6:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Matt Manning 9 44.1 1 2 18.5% 6.9% 3.86 4.37 0.7
Jonathan Heasley 16 77.2 3 7 16.2% 10.5% 4.98 5.40 -0.5

The results for Manning weren’t horrible against the Royals in his last start, but the Royals offense worked him very hard and he only ended up getting through four innings but required 90 pitches to do so. He threw strikes reasonably well but couldn’t get enough swings and misses or called strikes for it to matter and while he only gave up two runs, it could have easily been worse with the Royals absolutely on his fastball. When your average exit velocity allowed is 95.7 MPH on a pitch, it’s a pitch that wasn’t working. So the Royals will likely be looking to do even more damage against that pitch in this one.

Career vs. KC: 2 GS, 6.0 IP, 0-0, 4.50 ERA

On the plus side, Jonathan Heasley tied his career-high with seven innings in his last start against this Tigers team and only allowed two runs. Plus, he didn’t throw up once on the mound, which is a joke that probably has reached its end, so I’ll drive it into the ground for at least one more start. He also only walked two batters. All that is great. I’m a bit concerned at only striking out two against a team that strikes out quite a bit. He’s just struggling to get the swings and misses needed to compete in a big league rotation start after start His fastball got knocked around last Saturday, but his other pitches did look pretty sharp so maybe he’ll finally start to go to the secondaries a little more often? On another plus side, he struggled with control in a big way in his first three starts, but he’s only walked more than two once in 13 starts since then and has a reasonable 8.3 percent walk rate in 64.1 innings in that time.

Career vs. DET: 2 GS, 12.1 IP, 1-0, 1.46 ERA

September 11 - LHP Tyler Alexander vs. RHP Brady Singer, 1:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Tyler Alexander 22 72.1 3 9 12.5% 5.1% 5.23 4.75 -0.2
Brady Singer 23 127.2 7 4 24.0% 5.8% 3.38 3.36 2.1

Tyler Alexander is one of those guys on a pitching staff who goes unnoticed but shouldn’t. He’s super valuable because he can help in the bullpen and the rotation and that’s important to have. But the problem this year for him is the strikeouts have completely disappeared. He struck out nine batters in a row in a game in 2020, but this year has only struck out 39 batters in 72.1 innings all season. He doesn’t walk batters, so it’s not as big of a deal, but a strikeout rate as low as his makes him especially volatile and he doesn’t even get a good number of grounders to counteract the lack of strikeouts, so he puts himself in a position where he simply can’t make a mistake. He does work with a five-pitch mix that includes a cutter at 85-87, a four-seamer that hovers around 90 and a sinker, changeup and slider. Only the slider has been effective this year. He’s also been an absolute disaster away from Detroit with a .329/.367/.620 line allowed. That is not with those in the know would call “ideal.”

Career vs. KC: 9 G, 0 GS, 14.0 IP, 1-0, 3.86 ERA

I will repeat something I’ve been saying for awhile now. Brady Singer looks tired. He’s starting to miss with sinker arm side and up a lot more than he had previously. It’s understandable if and why he’s tired, but he does look tired. And I think there’s some effort by the Royals they’ve been going through to get him a day here and there. His last start felt like a guy running on fumes. He had one strikeout and just three swings and misses the entire game. Now, some of that is the lineup he was facing. They are not geared to swing and miss or strike out, but some of it is that he just doesn’t have the same bite we saw a few weeks ago. The encouraging thing is that he still had some decent results. He gave up just three earned runs and didn’t walk a batter. He did say he noticed something with his slider, so maybe he was able to get that worked out between starts and can come out in this one pitching better than he did. It will also help to face a team like the Tigers that does strike out and does swing and miss, so even if he can’t figure out how to get back to the Singer we saw through mid-August, he could still have a very good game.

Career vs. DET: 9 GS, 48.1 IP, 5-0, 2.79 ERA

Royals vs. Tigers Prediction

I’ll keep up with the Royals taking two of three because they seem to just win series against the Tigers. And if they do that, they’ll clinch the season series against them for the sixth time in seven years.


How will the Royals do against the Tigers this weekend?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    (16 votes)
  • 59%
    Win two of three
    (49 votes)
  • 14%
    Lose two of three
    (12 votes)
  • 6%
    Get swept
    (5 votes)
82 votes total Vote Now